Mark Thomas considers Odessa the birthplace of his high school coaching career. Twenty-five years later, he has returned home.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
Thomas is set to enter his first season as the Odessa football coach since he last led the Bulldogs from 1985-88.
"It's been fun for me coming back — I'm coaching a lot of kids whose parents I had in school when I was here before," said Thomas, who coached at Belton last season. "It's still the same great football community as when I left."
In his second stint at Odessa, Thomas has his work cut out for him. The Bulldogs have only two seniors on the roster after a 4-6 season. They lost six of their last seven games.
"We're really, really young. Very young," Thomas said. "We're going to be playing a lot of sophomores and juniors and even asking some freshmen to play big roles."
In a pro-style offense with a spread formation base, nobody's role will be more important than that of quarterback Jake Bartow. The offense has perhaps its most experience up front with Alex Kurtz and Dalton Koch.
An inexperienced defense may require a steeper learning curve, Thomas said, although he is particularly excited about the future of junior Trevor Plafcan, who will move from defensive end to linebacker.
"We really have to improve at being more disciplined defensively," Thomas said. "There are going to be some growing pains, and we're trying to work past those and figure everything out. We've got a lot of work to do on the defensive side."